US casino giant Las Vegas Sands has abruptly withdrawn from the process to secure one of Japan’s integrated resorts (IR) licences, saying that the regulatory framework in place meant the project was not viable.
Sands chief executive Sheldon Adelson said he admired the country’s strength as a tourism destination, and had always wanted his business to have the opportunity to develop a property there.
“And while my positive feelings for Japan are undiminished, and I believe the country would benefit from the business and leisure tourism generated by an Integrated Resort, the framework around the development of an IR has made our goals there unreachable,” he added.
“We are grateful for all of the friendships we have formed and the strong relationships we have in Japan, but it is time for our company to focus our energy on other opportunities.”
Adelson said he remained “extremely bullish” about Sands and its growth projects, noting that investment in Macau and Singapore would create meaningful new growth from its existing portfolio.
“We also believe the success of the MICE-based Integrated Resort model we pioneered in Las Vegas, Macao and Singapore will ultimately be considered by other Asian countries, particularly as governments look to increase leisure and business tourism as a driver of economic growth,” he added.
The Japanese government has given the country’s local authorities until July to submit applications to host one of three IR sites, and maintains this timetable will not be changed despite the disruption caused by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Sands had been expected to compete for a licence to build a facility in Yokohama, with Okinawa, Osaka, Wakayama, Sasebo and the capital Tokyo understood to be in contention. Hokkaido, however, pulled out of the process, citing environmental concerns, in November 2019.